Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Most Interesting Pilots: Comedies

It's really hard to judge the potential success of a comedy pilot based on a concept; they're usually overly simple, and the material can always drag down a funny cast. So even more so than with drama pilots, there is room for the finished product to go awry. Having said that, there also aren't many big, exciting comedies in development this season. In fact, most of the offerings look pretty tame. But these are ones that jump out at me.

1. Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (NBC)

Chelsea Handler will executive produce (and star in small role in the pilot) this series based on her bestselling memoir of the same name. I've read her book, and it's hysterical. I can also see the concept working as a series because the book is set up in short chapters, each with a different individually contained story. Unfortunately, what made the book funny was its vulgarities and inappropriate situations. And if Bleep My Dad Says taught us anything, it's that what's a good idea on paper can go horribly wrong in execution, especially when it becomes a matter of censoring the source material.

2. Suburgatory (ABC)

Even though the title is pretty awful and the plot is beyond cliche (a teenage girl moves from the big city to the suburbs), I can't help but think it's one of the better ideas of this comedy season... that should tell you the quality on display thus far. But the cast and crew is pretty great: Allie Grant (Weeds), Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jeremy Sisto (Clueless), and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) will star while the director of last year's hit Raising Hope, Michael Fresco, will be behind the camera.

3. Iceland (FOX)

More along the lines of a romantic comedy than a sitcom, this series will follow a young woman who tries to move on after the death of her fiance. Early reviews have pegged it as one of the stronger scripts; the cast is not at all starry, but it features some solid talent in Krysta Rodriguez (who was the funniest thing about the Broadway musical The Addams Family), Kerry Bishe (Scrubs) and Zach Gilford (Off the Map).

Yeah, that's pretty much it. There are a lot of notable pilots out there, but none that interest me personally. Film star Zooey Deschanel is appearing in her first pilot (currently untitle, formerly known as Chicks & Dicks); Whitney Cummings is executive producing two different pilots (one for NBC, the other for CBS) and starring in one of them; Kelsey Grammar will direct a pilot produced by Conan O'Brien; and Tim Allen will return to the world of sitcomes with the ABC pilot The Last Days of Man. And while these people may be big stars and all that, I don't find any of them all that funny or the concepts of their new shows all that interesting. But then again, I'm not a big sitcom person. I much prefer hour-long dramas and guilty pleasure reality shows.

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